Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval offered lawmakers a budget amendment Monday that includes $120 million in found revenue that the administration said will go toward filling a budget hole in K-12 education.
The statement from the governor's office came minutes before the Nevada Senate convened as a Committee of the Whole to review Sandoval's $5.8 billion budget proposal, but did nothing to temper Democratic leadership criticism of the spending plan.
Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, said Sandoval's budget would saddle the 2013 Legislature with a $1.1 billion shortfall heading into the next session, and called on both parties to tackle the problem of the state's tax structure. According to legislative staff, filling such a gap would require 12.6 percent revenue growth over the next two years - and unlikely scenario in a state that leads the nation in unemployment, bankruptcies and foreclosures.
"There are a lot of areas where we can agree with this administration that there are going to be some cuts," Horsford said on the Senate floor.
But when it comes to key elements of the budget - like deep cuts to education and some social services - "we're going to have a lot of discussion on how this ends," he said
He urged the Senate to "put ideological views aside" and "come together as a body."
Horsford said the governor's budget plan is $2.5 billion less than the spending plan approved by lawmakers two years ago.
The governor's budget director, Andrew Clinger, said the new revenue amended into the governor's proposal includes $41 million in mining net proceeds that was not included in the original budget. Clinger also said mines collections should be $17.9 million higher than forecast last year.
Another $26 million savings is expected in revised Medicaid matching rates paid by the federal government for 2013.
Horsford's remarks about future shortfalls brought a response from Senate Minority Leader Michael McGinness, R-Fallon, who said it's easy to "scare ourselves to death" talking about what-if scenarios down the road.
"We need to work on the current budget," he said, adding that the governor's amended budget "seems to fill up the holes we're talking about."